Socialist Worker

Was Liban Lait milk factory destroyed for profit?

Photographer Guy Smallman is in Lebanon taking photographs for Socialist Worker. Here he describes the wreckage of the Liban Lait dairy plant that was destroyed by Israeli bombs.

Issue No. 2015

Union rep Deeb Mounzer stands in the wreckage of the Liban Lait factory (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Union rep Deeb Mounzer stands in the wreckage of the Liban Lait factory (Pic: Guy Smallman)

I am being shown around what is left of the Liban Lait plant by Deeb Mounzer, a mechanical engineer and one of the union reps at the factory.

Liban Lait was one of the biggest dairy producers in the Middle East. On the fifth day of the war it was attacked by Israeli fighter jets in a strike whose precision was matched only by its ferocity.

Now the factory is a twisted pile of metal, drenched in millions of gallons of dairy products that have been fermenting in the sun for weeks.

The stench is unbearable and clouds of flies swarm around the wreckage. Deeb tells me that 270 people are now unemployed.

Israel’s excuse for this outrage was that the factory was a possible weapon store and was funded by Hizbollah. This allegation was repeated by all the corporate media in the West.

The “funding” argument beggars belief. The workforce was a mixture of Christian, Sunni and Shia. One of the factory owners is a Christian and part of Saad Hariri’s pro-US faction in the Lebanese parliament. The other owner is Mohammed Zaidan, a Sunni from Sidon.

As for the “storage” argument, the only part of the factory that is still standing is the stock area. It is clear that the missiles were targeted into the factory’s core, taking out the European made production lines and processing facilities. The machinery was state of the art and the secret of the plant’s success.

For the past few years Liban Lait has consistently won a tender worth $15,000 dollars a week to supply the United Nations (UN). Rival Israeli firms had previously held this lucrative contract, and had regularly tried and failed to win it back.

Now that the factory is gone the UN will have to go elsewhere for its milk. And the only producers in the area capable of handling such an order just happen to be in Israel.

It seems that arms manufacturers are not the only people to profit from war.

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